Does God Punish Us When We Sin?

Does God Punish Us When We Sin? October 18, 2015

Does God punish us immediately after we sin? Are there times when He withholds it or when it comes right away?

When Does Discipline Come?

God does punish sin…but the punishment might be the natural consequences of reaping what we have sown. All sin must be dealt with; God doesn’t sweep sin under the carpet and say, “Oh well, humans will be humans!” The only way to avoid receiving the consequences of sin is to avoid the sin. This isn’t humanly possible of course but God has provided a way. Specifically, God provided His Son to take the punishment that we deserve of which He deserved none. If a person has authentically repented and trusted in Christ, then they will not face any punishment from their sins because Jesus died for them (John 3:16) but if a person doesn’t trust in Christ but in themselves, then they will have to pay for their own sins (Rev 21:8). God doesn’t always swiftly send His judgment immediately after we sin. Sometimes he allows us to see our sin and repent of them and ask for His forgiveness (1st John 1:9). At other times, He will allow us to stew in our own troubles to humble us to come before Him. There is no hard, fast rule or principle found in the Bible when God will punish sin. For the believer, there is no fear of punishment because it was placed on Christ. For the unbeliever there is only “a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries” (Heb 10:27) and “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb 10:31).


There is no fear of God

Today it seems there is never any preaching about the fear of God and as a result, there is little fear of God even among Christians. Unbelievers have no fear of God; at least that’s what they say but read what Jesus said, “But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him” (Luke 12:5). Fear is a deep, holy, reverential respect and reverence for God and His Word. The fear of God is the very beginning of wisdom (Psalm 111:10) but as Paul looked out in his world, just as it is today, “There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Rom 3:18). If they only knew that God would judge them for their works, without having the required righteousness of Christ (2nd Cor 5:21), they would read this and fear; “And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done” (Rev 20:12).

When Discipline Comes

God sometimes sends swift and immediate discipline or punishment. At other times, He withholds it for a time. He alone knows why and I cannot question His timing. Because the wicked do evil and live long lives and some live good lives and die young, they might question the goodness of God and so Solomon wisely wrote “Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, the heart of the children of man is fully set to do evil” (Eccl 8:11). Why does God wait sometimes to punish sin? Why does it seem the guilty go free when many of the innocent ones get taken? For one thing, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness” (Ex 34:6) so He may be waiting for someone to repent but know this, it will come. The prophet Habakkuk asked “O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save” (Hab 1:2). One example of an immediate judgment by God was when King Herod spoke once and heard “the people were shouting, “The voice of a god, and not of a man!” then “Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him down, because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and breathed his last” (Acts 12:22-23). Interestingly, right after this happened and the people feared, “the word of God increased and multiplied” (Acts 12:24). There seems to be a connection between the fear of God and His Word and God giving the increase but even if the punishment for sin comes slowly, it is coming because “it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment” (Heb 9:27).


Jesus warned the self-righteous and unrepentant “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt 10:28) however, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2nd Pet 3:9) so if you are not saved then today could be your day to have your sins cleared and the punishment cancelled (2nd Cor 6:2). Waiting could be the worst decision of your life….and the life to come.

Article by Jack Wellman

Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.

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  • pud

    Gentle jesus meek and mild warning of pain and torment if you offend the celestial dictator….you sick pitiful self loathing man.

    • SJ

      You need to stop complaining and do the requisite seeking. The word ” hell ” doesn’t appear in the ancient texts.

      Maybe you are already in hell and that is why you spend all your time complaining.

      Get Jesus so he will give you the Spirit of God and light your way out of your hellish existence on this earth.

      Without Jesus you are spiritless. Just a zombie. Just a dead man walking.

      Check the scriptures. You are dead in your trespasses and sins without Jesus Christ. I see sinful people all the time. They like their sins better than Jesus and that is a stupid spirit prompting that. Nothing will age you faster than a depraved, sinful life. Did you ever look at the face of a drunk or a meth addict? Aged prematurely. Sin is aging them early and there is no indwelling spirit restoring their youthfulness so they end up bitter, resentful, etc. and nobody wants to be around them except other reprobates.

      You could have learned all this by reading the bible and comparing it to life and how the world acts and reacts. Unfortunately, we have too many sinners in this generation confusing us by exalting sin and their wills and false idols against God’s will.

      I haven’t met the atheist who had the spiritual common sense to see this yet but it is true.

      You need the Spirit of God residing in you to learn to overcome sin and be a better person period. Jacob must have went through epic struggles of good and evil until God blessed him. He went from being a deceiver to being a prince of God.

      You better learn to ponder pud. God must have His hand on you. Most people will never get this many personal warnings from God. Fall to your knees and pray to God for enlightenment. Ask Him to send you the Holy Spirit and don’t forget Christ died for you and there is no greater love than that. See John 15.

      • pud

        OH NO! Personal warnings!! Do as you are instructed or else!! me so scared!!

  • SJ

    This is a great mystery, Pastor Wellman that Jesus, the prophets and the apostles all expounded upon. Theology teaches that everyone is evil. Yet God looks on hearts.

    Didn’t God look on David’s heart and select him or was he elected before he was born? Wouldn’t God know who’s hearts were more evil than others? We can all be evil but to different degrees. If there weren’t different degrees of evil then why would God say not to be yoked with an unbeliever? Some Christians are the ones seriously trying to learn God’s ways and that stems from heart motive. It says God plants the impulse but doesn’t He see before He plants or does He just arbitrarily pick?

    It may be some people are more evil than others and need the warning to be afraid or it could be an Old Covenant mindset. Jesus Christ was talking to people before the pouring out of the Spirit at Pentecost. That out pouring had to have changed the world significantly.

    I believe being afraid of God is typical of an Old Covenant mindset.

    The New Covenant mind is ” perfect love casts out fear “. We are not told in the Old Testament…..the Hebrews were not told to call God the Father ” Daddy”.

    Abba means daddy and that is what Jesus told us to call our Father: Daddy. Daddy is a term of endearment that flows from complete trust. We don’t have to fear our Daddy because He always has our best interests at heart.

    The Old Covenant taught fear to get down the need for a proper filial respect.

    If you have a proper filial respect and love for your Daddy doesn’t He know it and do you still need to fear Him? Only if you intend to sin because sinning is walking outside of His will and the world is set up that if you sin then you will feel it’s consequences. Engage in gluttony: there are consequences, lie to others: there are consequences, steal: there are consequences, etc.

    Make an absolute surrender to God and love and respect Him enough to know He only intends good toward His obedient children. The disobedient children reap what they sow because God has set the physical principles of the world up in such a way that consequences for bad behavior are unavoidable.

    Your duty is to love and respect God, love and respect people and keep His commandments. That’s all that Jesus said to do and Jesus was God.

    Jesus was our pattern and Paul shows the right way and wrong way to follow that pattern as do the other writers of the New Testament.

    Blessings to everyone reading. God makes all things new. Even you.

  • HematitePersuasion

    If there is no way to distinguish God’s actions in punishing sin from His non-actions, then, for all intents and purposes, He does not punish sin on earth.